The Hush Post: Himanshu Shukla was just nine years old in 1995 when he slapped a local boy named Kallu, also 9, in his native village in Shahjahanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. While he does not remember why he slapped the boy, Shukla, now 31, has been punished by a juvenile court, more than two decades after the incident.
Police had booked him that very day under the SC/ ST Act for assaulting a Dalit. They had detained him for a night but released him the next day. For more than 20 years, nothing happened. Now, Shukla has been held guilty by a juvenile court and “sentenced” to serve at a government-run community health centre (CHC) for a month as a “sweeper”. Shukla has started his month-long punishment at a CHC in Powayan. “On December 15, the judge pronounced the sentence. I have been appointed as a sweeper and will be working here till January 25,” Shukla told a national daily. Born in a poor Brahmin family, his childhood was like that of any underprivileged child. Shukla said on Tuesday, “I didn’t even know what Dalit meant then.”
Shukla added, “Over time I forgot the incident like a bad dream and continued with my life. I learnt driving, picked up a job, got married in 2005 and had two children. I received summons from a court in 2011 that a chargesheet had been filed against me and I would have to face trial. With an income of Rs 200-250 per day, I faced many difficulties during the trial. After six years, someone advised me to accept my guilt and that is what I did, and so my punishment was reduced.” Superintendent of the CHC said, ” Since Himanshu Shukla is illiterate, we asked him to clean the hospital.”